By Alberto Frammartino, October 18, 2022
When Formula One introduced cost cap measure in 2021, the aim was to limit excessive spending and level the competitive playing field. F1’s technical director Ross Brawn said no team would be spared from the FIA’s wrath should anyone breach the $145M spending limit. Brawn never mentioned if a minor breach constituted breaking the rules because the term was never introduced into the conversation. One assumed that a breach is still a breach of the regulatory standards set out in the cost cap measures, an agreement signed off by all teams.
Breaching the cost cap is a sign of dysfunctionality and a lack of monetary discipline. It also suggests an entitlement to break the rules without fear and betting on the consequences being nothing more than a regulatory slap on the wrists. The only argument you can make is, what was the point of introducing the cost cap measure?
Red Bull was found to have breached Formula One’s cost cap, by less than 5%, a minor breach according to the FIA. The FIA declined to specify the amount Red Bull exceeded the cost cap, which is very suspicious because it suggests a cover-up at the very least or favoritism. If the breach was a few million, the advantage given to Red Bull is not minor it is significant.
Red Bull intially denied they had overspent in 2021, then threatned legal action to team bossess pointing and making accusations. The day after Max Verstappen had wrapped up his second drivers championship, the FIA confimed the open secret of Red Bull’s cost cap breach. It isn’t clear what the FIA will do.
The FIA can deduct points and wins for 2021 and 2022 because the advantage Red Bull had has carried over into this years championship which the team dominated. However, McLaren CEO Zak Brown has begun the war and aimed his verbal gun turrets towards Red Bull. In a letter written to the FIA, Brown openly accuses Red Bull of cheating. The letter read:
“The overspend breach, and possibly the procedural breaches, constitute cheating by offering a significant advantage across technical, sporting and financial regulations.”
“The FIA has run an extremely thorough, collaborative and open process. We have even been given a one-year dress rehearsal (in 2020), with ample opportunity to seek any clarification if details were unclear. So, there is no reason for any team to now say they are surprised.”
“The bottom line is any team who has overspent has gained an unfair advantage both in the current and following year’s car development.”
“We don’t feel a financial penalty alone would be a suitable penalty for an overspend breach or a serious procedural breach. There clearly needs to be a sporting penalty in these instances, as determined by the FIA.”
“We suggest that the overspend should be penalised by way of a reduction to the team’s cost cap in the year following the ruling, and the penalty should be equal to the overspend plus a further fine – ie an overspend of $2m in 2021, which is identified in 2022, would result in a $4m deduction in 2023 ($2m to offset the overspend plus $2m fine).”
“For context, $2m is (a) 25-50% upgrade to (an) annual car-development budget and hence would have a significant positive and long-lasting benefit.”
“In addition, we believe there should be minor overspend sporting penalties of a 20% reduction in CFD and wind tunnel time. These should be enforced in the following year, to mitigate against the unfair advantage the team has and will continue to benefit from.”